The two billion people in the world without a bank account are forced to use cash. For businesses, this means there could be less revenue coming in the door because of those with only one form of payment.
One company that’s looking to shake up commerce for those without banks is Paris startup Snapay. With over 50 countries and six currencies on its app, this company is looking to move all unbanked people’s money onto their app, which is set to be launched this year on the Android and Google Play store.
While the company has not confirmed exactly how people’s cash makes it to them to help consumers use the app, Snapay’s Founder Elise Moussa is optimistic about its use.
“We want to put the control of money back into people’s hands by removing all the barriers. The current players are over-reliant on hardware or fragmented on device type, country or bank,” she said.
Interesting? We will keep you updated with the latest news of this new payment app.
Hashtags are important especially in gaining followers and audience but do you know what are the best practises to use hashtags in social media? We have explained the do’s of using hashtags in the previous post and we are going to discuss the don’ts today.
Don’t Go Too Long Or Too Clever
In general, if you’re creating a branded hashtag you should try to keep it short and sweet. Even though “#AvocadoToastLovers” might target a very specific audience, no one will use the hashtag because they just don’t want to type in that many characters.
You also don’t want to try and be too clever or offbeat (#avocadotoasterstrudel) since you want people to naturally search for your tag. Hashtags are supposed to make things easier to find and engage with, but long, complicated hashtags can actually be more arduous. In this case, you’re better off with something like #avocadotoast or even, #avotoast.
Don’t Have More Hashtags Than Words
In fact, don’t even come close. Social media users often used an excessive number of hashtags ironically or when making a joke.
But many Instagram users have also caught onto the fact that more hashtags can mean more reach and likes. So, they’ve overloaded their photos with as many hashtags as they’re allowed—which is reportedly 30. You don’t want to use 30 hashtags on a single post. You don’t even want to use five hashtags on a single post. Even if you gain followers, it’s often the wrong kind of follower—spammers or people only interested in being followed back. It generally dilutes your message and comes off as desperate.
Don’t Hashtag Everything
Hashtags serve to make your content discoverable to a wide audience. The truth is, not everything you produce is going to fit into that category. If your tweet, post, or comment isn’t adding any substance to the wider conversation, you might want to consider leaving the hashtag off. For example, if a news story breaks and you simply share the news, leave the hashtag off of it. If you write a blog post that analyses the impact of that news, then absolutely use a hashtag when you share it.
Using hashtags will allow you to make an impression on a wide social media audience. Make sure you’re sharing the best content and making the right impression.
Picking out the perfect gift for a friend or family member can be a daunting task. More often than not, the safest route to go is giving a gift card, which can sometimes be seen as a cop out.
One company that’s looking to revolutionise the gift-giving process is start-up company Token. The company just launched this week and announced its $2.5 million round of funding. It’s planning to use that to further advance its gift recommendation software. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Token gathers information about the gift recipient, filters through its database of brands and retail partners and then narrows down options to a few selections.
While the gift recommendations are free, Token makes its money from a percentage of items purchased through its platform and a small commission from retailers and brands post-transaction.
Token’s CEO, Jonathan Jarvis, commented on the technology behind the company’s service and how it will change gift giving: “This type of technology wasn’t there before, and that will help us scale the service to millions of users in a way that’s thoughtful and creative. There is tremendous abandonment all along the funnel of gift-giving. But Token reminds you to send a gift, selects the right item, handles delivery and gift wrapping. No one has done the entire funnel of gift-giving until now.”
Being creative isn’t sufficient, having a solution to help overcome daunting task in daily life is the way to bring values to your customers. Are you having any solutions to problems that we encountered in our daily life?
Hashtags are such a prominent part of culture today that it’s rare to find anyone who doesn’t know what they are. In fact, the hashtag is so recognized that it was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2010, and the Scrabble Dictionary in 2014 (#official). Yet even as most people have come to know what they are, many people still don’t understand how to use hashtags.
Hashtags, once your phone’s pound sign, now have a place on most popular social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest. The hashtag is likely the most popular means of categorising content on social media. It makes your own content discoverable and allows you to find relevant content from other people and businesses. The hashtag also allows you to connect with and engage other social media users based on a common theme or interest.
Knowing how to use hashtags is fundamental to your success on social media. Here are a few best practices to help you achieve that success. Let’s begin with the do’s.
Be Specific When Using Hashtags
Try and hone in on a passionate community that shares an interest in one specific theme. The more specific you can get with your hashtag, the more targeted your audience will be—and a targeted audience generally means better engagement. If you don’t have your own business hashtag, find one or two existing ones that really fit the photo.
Say, for example, your business sells baby products. Instead of using #parents—resulting in parents of children of all ages—opt for #newmom. The hashtag #newmom is specific to mothers of newborns—your target customer.
Cater Hashtags To The Social Network You’re Using
While hashtags on all social networks have the same fundamental purpose of content tagging and discovery, the use of hashtags still varies by network.
Hashtags on the photo- and video-sharing platform are often more focused on description of the content. This is at odds with Twitter, where hashtags tend to be more focused a topic of conversation, or a group of people (a chat for example) that you would like to engage.
Before using hashtags, do research on the proper way to use them for that particular network. Most networks will have guides for hashtag selection and use. Also take the time to discover the most popular and most relevant hashtags on a specific subject for each network. This extra time you invest will pay off in engagement down the road.
Come Up With Relevant, Unbranded Hashtags
Brand hashtags don’t have to mention your brand name, but should represent your brand and what you stand for. Destination British Columbia created the hashtag #exploreBC. The tourism company uses it to share scenic photos of the Canadian province taken by their employees and the community.
Seeing photos from regular people on the official Destination British Columbia account quickly prompted more of their followers to embrace the hashtag and share their own photos. As such, the company has created a growing movement that supplies them with fantastic, follower-generated content to use on their social accounts.
Brand hashtags are also great for user-generated content campaigns and contests. Lay’s Potato Chips used them for their “Do Us A Flavour” contest, which encourage people to pitch their best potato chip flavour ideas. With the goal to engage users and collect ideas, Lay’s launched a brand hashtag campaign using #DoUsAFlavour.
Not only does a brand hashtag drive participation and engagement, it will also organize all the posts that are tagged with it on a hashtag page. This is helpful if you’re using the hashtag to collect entries for a promotion or contest, as Lay’s was with the #DoUsAFlavor campaign.
Make sure you check out our page tomorrow for the don’ts of using hashtags.
Waiting in line is becoming a drag. If there’s one thing today’s consumers aren’t, it’s patient.
As a result, mobile order ahead options soon look to become a dominant digital ordering method in the quick service restaurants (QSR) space.
Since Starbucks debuted its offering back in 2015, QSRs across the U.S. have been jumping on the mobile order ahead bandwagon in droves. The latest QSR franchise to join is Boston-based Au Bon Pain. The company announced recently the launch of ABP Pickup — the company’s new line-busting, mobile order ahead service.
Available via Au Bon Pain’s mobile app on iOS and Android, as well as via Au Bon Pain’s website, ABP pickup allows customers to order, select a pick-up time and pay.
“With ABP Pickup, guests will have more time to get on with the busy day ahead with a full and happy stomach,” said Ray Blanchette, president and CEO, Au Bon Pain. “We put our time into creating quality, delicious food but want to give our guests an efficient dining experience. We are proud to introduce this new service to better help our customers, no matter what their schedules may look like.”
To start, ABP Pickup is being rolled out across Au Bon Pain’s Massachusetts locations. Mobile order ahead functionality will become available across the regions Au Bon Pain serves between now and May 25, 2017.
Mobile order ahead has gone from zero to hundreds of thousands in just a few short years.
By the end of 2015, order-ahead solutions had been deployed at 60,000 locations across the U.S. Through 2016, it had grown to feature in 180,000 locations.
By the end of 2017, projections indicate that ordering ahead will scale to more than 300,000 locations nationwide. To put it another way, by the end of 2017, order ahead could be in 40 to 50 percent of all QSRs, coffee shops, etc., in the U.S.
This is the power of O2O where it allows customers to order online and then pick up at the physical stores. The seamless integration of online and offline has become a trend in most retail business. So are you considering to apply O2O in your business?
Retail chain PetSmart has acquired pet food and product site Chewy for $3.35 billion. The deal is the largest e-commerce acquisition in history, beating Walmart’s $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com in August 2016.
Chewy is one of the fast-growing e-commerce sites. In 2016, after just five years of operation, it counted nearly $900 million in revenue. The Fort Lauderdale-based company is known for its 24-hour customer service and sells products for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles and even horses.
CEO Ryan Cohen and CTO Michael Day launched the company in 2011, after meeting in a Java chat room. Cohen, 31, was working in affiliate marketing, the practice of collecting fees for referring customers to e-commerce sites, and met Day when trying to find a programmer for his website, according to Forbes. Day dropped out of the University of Georgia to help him and eventually the two put $150,000 of their own money into an online jewellery start-up. After attending a trade show, the pair realised they didn’t have the passion for the business and sold their inventory for 80 cents on the dollar.
Cohen told Forbes he sees himself as a “pet parent” and calls his teacup poodles his “No. 1”– even though he’s married. After ditching the jewellery business, Cohen and Day collected what was left in their personal bank accounts and started buying pet products from distributors. Once they found a third-party fulfillment center in Pennsylvania, they launched the site and matched the online prices of competitors.
Investors saw the company’s appeal and Chewy raised $236 million in venture capital in late 2013. What’s more, the online pet supply retailer saw a 2017 IPO as a possibility, but needed to become profitable.
Cohen and Day are tapping into a huge industry. In 2015, consumers spent a total of $60.2 billion on pet products and services, according to the American Pet Products Association. Since its inception, Chewy has attracted 3 million customers and has 4,000 employees.
PetSmart, which was valued at $8.7 billion in 2015, is expected to close the deal at the end of this year’s second fiscal quarter. The company is owned by a group of private equity investors led by BC Partners.
E-commerce is growing rapidly in the Asia Pacific with venture capital backed e-commerce players going head to head against traditional retailers. Who are the leaders? What is behind their competitive edge? How fast is Asia’s e-commerce market growing? Which verticals have been growing the fastest?
In this article, e-commerce marketing expert Metisa compare the growth, engagement and sources of traffic across five e-commerce verticals:
Home & Electronics
Food & Groceries
This analysis is based on the market reports where over 370 popular e-commerce websites in Asia Pacific were analysed.
How is the market growing and which are the fastest-growing verticals?
Image Credit: Tech in Asia
In six months, most verticals are seeing high growth in web and mobile web traffic. This is broadly in line with Emarketer’s full-year growth estimate of 29 percent for Asia Pacific e-commerce in 2017.
Over the past six months, the Food & Groceries vertical has been growing the fastest, with more consumers opting for the convenience of getting their food delivered to their doorsteps.
On the other hand, the Beauty vertical is the only segment that is experiencing negative growth.
How do engagement metrics compare across verticals?
For the Beauty vertical, minutes on site and pages visited are less than the inter-industry average. This indicates that O2O and the offline experience are key parts to customers interacting with businesses in the vertical.
Customers are spending more time on sites and pages in the Food & Groceries vertical. This may be because customers shopping for food and groceries have more products in their basket and hence visit many pages to find all the groceries they need.
The Home & Electronics vertical saw high minutes on site but low pages per view. This could mean that customers visit ecommerce sites with an idea of what particular piece of furniture or gadget they want and spend time reading product details and reviews instead of browsing through the site to seek inspiration. This kind of buying behavior may be due to the high cost of furniture and electronics, which are typically not impulse buys.
In the Luxury vertical, pages visited is high and bounce rate is low compared to the average. This could imply that customers tend to browse through luxury product catalogs for inspiration, putting items into their mental wishlist.
How does each vertical draw web traffic?
Fashion receives a high proportion of traffic from direct visits, while luxury companies do not.
Fashion, beauty, and luxury e-commerce companies draw more traffic via display ads, given the focus on aesthetics within those verticals.
Luxury companies use email the most to draw traffic. This could indicate that sending personalized emails to valued customers are seen to be a better and more targeted way to build brand exclusivity than mass advertisements.
Referrals from other sites comprise a larger proportion of web traffic for the Food & Groceries, Beauty, and Luxury verticals, and a smaller proportion of web traffic for Home & Electronics and Fashion.
Fashion receives the least web traffic from search, while luxury receives the most. Many luxury companies in our index sell clothing and apparel, so the variation is due more to customer behavior than product type. The spelling of European luxury brands may be unfamiliar to the SEA market we surveyed, so customers may be using search engines to locate those luxury brands, directly keying in the URLs of mainstream fashion brands. This matches our earlier observation that fashion companies receive more traffic from direct entries while the reverse is true for luxury companies.
Use of social networks to draw web traffic is more prevalent in the Beauty and Fashion verticals, suggesting that customers in these segments could be swayed by social pressure.
On the other hand, luxury companies tend not to use social networks, which may be due to an apprehension of diluting their brand image. Food & Groceries e-commerce companies are also less reliant on social to draw web traffic.
Retailer Herschel Supply Company’s #WellTravelled hashtag attracts millions of users from around the world and has become a shining example for how to do effective marketing on Instagram.
Here’s a Q&A interview with Herschel’s community manager, Sheila Lam and global marketing director, Mikey Scott, to chat about the strategy behind this powerful hashtag.
How has social media played a role in the development of your brand story?
It was pretty natural. Instagram had just started blossoming. We were already on Facebook, but didn’t really have official Pages. So we reserved all the names. We said, let’s wait a second until we know what we want to do. We knew we wanted to celebrate our photography, which we already celebrate internally.
We started showing how we travel through our community of users, which created momentum for a travel vibe. We elevated that into #WellTravelled and now #CityLimitless. We’ve built other different storytelling platforms and content series through different partnerships, too.
Can you tell us a little bit about the #WellTravelled hashtag and the story behind it?
The #WellTravelled hashtag is a route of escapism on Instagram for us. We can showcase not only where our product goes, but the stories and people behind it.
The hashtag allows you to see the world from your phone. So we promote far off destinations. We’ve got a great series in the Faroe Islands and Fez, along with places that are little more well-known like Sydney and New York. It’s an inclusive community of people who love to travel.
What do you want people to feel when they’re looking at your #WellTravelled photos?
A sense of wonder. The imagery we promote—both that we’ve produced in-house and the user-generated content—it’s beautiful. It’s a painterly landscape or insane cavernous cliffside. It’s all these moments that take your breath away.
It is difficult to use the user-generated content because the content may not always reflect your brand, but Herschel has done such an amazing job at effectively using customer-submitted content. What’s the process and criteria for choosing what content ends up on the channel?
Our director of photography, Stephen Wilde, has set a precedent of having such amazing visuals. To promote user-generated content, it has to match that. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to curate the images that meet those standards.
Would you say that’s probably one of the biggest ways that you inspire your customers to share great content?
Yeah, absolutely. When you see Herschel you know the quality of content that you’re receiving is at a high level. There’s always consideration behind it—even when it comes from an amateur photographer, it’s about the framing or the subject or how it’s been edited or shot.
It’s all these things that go into making a beautiful image. I don’t want to say that our followers necessarily aspire to us, but they aspire to that. So it’s that quality, that type of content that they they can identify with and want to produce.
The #WellTravelled hashtag is a branded hashtag. Is there a reason that you chose not to include your brand name in the hashtag when you were conceiving it?
I think that instead of getting people to just talk about your brand, they inherently talk about something that’s so embedded inside your brand that it ties back to it. #WellTravelled has 1.8 million hashtags on it and Herschel Supply has 225,000. On the basis of looking at both of them you could say that we’ve created something that’s bigger than our brand, which is pretty awesome. And it’s the same thing with #CityLimitless.
We really looked at, first of all, the whole purpose of a hashtag and what people do when they go through it. A hashtag lets people direct back to your brand without you having to advertise the name of your brand. It allows people to become a part of a movement versus just a number one brand fan. I think launching these types of hashtags creates a path for people to be involved in your brand and all the moments that come with it.
On the topic of world travel—you guys have become a pretty global brand in the last few years. Does your strategy and content differ from region to region?
We are in just under 80 countries and over 180 territories. That’s great for a seven-year-old brand. That being said, we have great partners in all these regions and we need to give them a strategy to localize. Somewhere along the line, being global and acting local became hard.
We need to make sure that we’re engaging and working with different types of partners. We’ve started different hashtags where it’s Herschel Supply HK for Hong Kong, Herschel Supply PH for Philippines, and we’re actually searching those to pull content from.
We’re trying to keep things consistent without opening up the floodgates to have a page for this, a page for that, a profile for this, a profile for that. We want to make sure that there’s that red thread. If someone who travels starts out on the other side of the world and they make it over to this side, our brand looks the same, but there is a little bit of a nuance that they can see and understand.
Good news for small retailers: The ideal millennial retail experience is not a giant superstore full of endless product permutations.
Instead, millennials value simplicity, quality and authenticity, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. A carefully curated store with products that appeal to their tastes will spark millennial spending, according to Kelton, which aims to identify trends before they happen. Here are five trends any retail business targeting millennials needs to be aware of, and how you can do to take advantage of them.
Remember when Target got rid of its boys and girls toy departments, instead displaying toys in gender-neutral fashion? While it riled some people, the idea just plain makes sense to millennials. They don’t believe products should be narrowly defined as only for boys or girls, men or women.
You can: Offer gender-neutral merchandise, such as unisex clothing and toys and display it in a gender-neutral fashion. For instance, a clothing boutique with men’s clothes on one side and women’s on the other is so old school. How about casual clothes on one side and dressy clothes on the other? Finally, make sure your visuals, such as store signage, displays, ads and social media posts, are inclusive of the LGBTQ community.
Less is more for millennials, many of whom are rejecting mass consumption and the waste it brings. Instead, they want to purchase fewer, but higher-quality products.
You can: Introduce higher-quality products that cost more, but last longer. Emphasize your products’ quality and durability in your marketing and signage. Encourage reuse of products by offering trade-ins where you give discounts for bringing in old items, then donate the castoffs to charity.
The Snapchat Effect
Millennials are used to quickly changing content, like Snapchat stories that live only 24 hours. They expect your store to keep up by feeding them new stimuli all the time.
You can: Try adding a popup store for a limited time separate from your main location. For instance, if a nearby outdoor shopping centre gets lots of foot traffic, do a month-long popup there. Inside your store, shift your merchandise mix as frequently as is feasible. This can be as simple as changing your window displays every week or rotating displays from the front to the back of the store. Change the look of your store by adding new signage, displays of art by local artists or other in-store installations. Finally, keep your social media presence enticing with frequent updates.
Millennials prefer to support local, independent businesses, not global chains. The more you emphasise your ties to the local community millennials care about, the better.
You can: Get involved in community organisations and events. Use your marketing to highlight any local suppliers to your store or locally made products you sell. Hold in-store events that celebrate the local community. For instance, a bookstore could hold poetry readings or book signings by local authors. Any type of store can incorporate local artists’ work on their walls.
More than any other generation, millennials expect the shopping experience to be seamless. They want to pay quickly and use their smartphones for just about everything.
You can: Update your point-of-sale systems to accept digital wallet payments which millennials are more likely than other generations to embrace. Make sure your loyalty program, too, is digital so there’s no need to fumble with plastic loyalty cards. Finally, use tablets and smartphones to accept payments anywhere in store.
Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs participate in Startup Weekends–the 54-hour start-up marathons that are now held in cities across 150 countries. More than 193,000, according to the event’s website. But few can say they’ve actually managed to start a real company afterward–particularly one that’s attracted 85,000 members in 10,000 U.S. cities and made $100 million in bookings last year alone.
That’s the story behind the on-demand pet-sitting site Rover.com, which Philip Kimmey co-founded over the summer of 2011, after his junior year at Washington University in St. Louis. The computer science major opted to try his hand at starting up, rather than get an internship like most of his classmates.
And, boy, is he glad. The Seattle-based company has today raised $91.5 million in venture funding and ended 2016 with 181 employees. It’s doubled its revenue in each of the past three years, and is poised to do it again this year, according to the company, which declined to cite specific revenue numbers. The company, which acquired competitor DogVacay last month in an all-stock deal, was valued at nearly $300 million after a Series E round of fundraising this past September.
“There’s always a new set of challenges that comes with this,” says Kimmey, now 27. “Rover does continue to provide a new sense of experiences every day. And to be honest, there’s like 40 dogs in the office every day. It really is kind of ideal.”
Baby (Puppy) Steps
That success didn’t always seem fated. At the Startup Weekend event, when veteran venture capitalist Greg Gottesman told the story of his dog Ruby–a yellow Lab who had gone to a kennel and returned with kennel cough–Kimmey thought it was “heartbreaking.” He had no reason, however, to think it would turn into an actual business.
Gottesman, a partner at Madrona Venture Group, had different ideas. Impressed by Kimmey’s performance, Gottesman called the budding engineer that following Monday asking if he wanted to spend the rest of the summer working on the project in a corner at the Madrona offices. “Had Phil Kimmey had a full-time job that summer, Rover.com would not exist,” Gottesman, 47, insists. “And millions of dogs would be the poorer for it.”
Aaron Easterly, Rover.com’s third co-founder, joined the team as CEO later that summer–and by December, Rover.com was ready for local business. At first, the company largely grew through a feet-on-the-street approach. The team–all five of them, by that point–would go to Seattle dog parks and strike up conversations with owners. “This is kind of silly,” Easterly, 39, remembers thinking after a few months. “The chance that you’re going to engage someone in a dog park right when they’re contemplating what to do with their dog when they go on their next vacation is kind of close to nil.”
Opening up the service to the rest of the country, trusting that momentum from their test markets could help keep the ball rolling, proved more effective. The business model remains essentially the same; in the past four years, Rover.com has added three additional services beyond dog sitting and boarding–dog walking, doggy daycare, and drop-in visits where sitters visit pets during the work day. The app also now hosts caretakers for other pets like cats, horses and lizards.
The only noticeable change is that the original 15 percent fee Rover.com collected per transaction has risen to 20 percent. It’s a tech company in a gigantic industry–$66 billion, according to trade group American Pet Products Association–that has become a major force without a major pivot.
Bringing Rover Home
Future success, however, is never a foregone conclusion in the sharing economy. Each city is a new battleground, which is how Lyft and Uber sustain their grudge match. “There’s no reason that New York and L.A. should have the same winner in the pet care business,” says Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business and author of The Sharing Economy. “When you enter an industry first–whatever the industry is–you have a bit of an advantage. Someone who starts a new pet care business would face more barriers to growth than Rover did when it started out, because there’s already a large competitor in the fray. But the game is certainly not over.”
That’s not fazing Rover’s founders. Easterly says an international expansion is on the horizon, and that in a way, the DogVacay acquisition is also about expansion. “We think that we can–as a larger, louder voice–help people understand that a better alternative to kennels exists,” he explains. “And that we can invest that much more aggressively in the technology and the product.”
The goal, of course, is to become a household name. Kimmey is aware that it takes patience and he’s confident that the past six years of work will eventually pay off. “People always say that these companies come out of nowhere and become household names overnight, but it’s so not true,” he says. “People spend the better part of a decade working hard to build a company to the point where that happens. Seven years in, eight years in, nine years in, it suddenly becomes a household name–but it’s not really sudden. The company’s been built for that long and had that much blood, sweat and tears put in.”